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Striving by Twin

Posted by shirleycurran on 1 November 2019

Our first run through Twin’s clues produced a number of solutions, EH WHOW, for example, where we saw a hidden pair of Scottish words when we had removed ‘engulf’ ‘Some in Nineveh who [engulf] warriers lament for Queen of the South (6, two words)’. CEORL, TASSET, MONIST, AVALE, HAEMIC, TRACEUR – these were not the words we usually introduce into the Numpty dinnertime discussions and there had to be a reason for them that became evident when those initial letters of ‘spare’ words spelled out READ TOP LEFT OF EACH SQUARE and DRAW ALL DISC OUTLINES.

Of course, knowing that there was a message there helped us to complete our gridfill and we found yet another message in those ‘top left’ letters: SPARE WORDS LAST LETTERS ARE MOVES IN COLUMS A TO G.

No, I hadn’t forgotten to confirm that Twin retains his entry ticket for the next Listener Setters’ Oenophile Knees-up and, indeed, with a stunning compilation like this we’ll be raising our glasses at the bar. That’s if his ‘religious adherent’ hasn’t managed to enact some kind of prohibition: ‘Religious adherent’s eagerness to close pub up, any number inside drinking (7)’

Those ‘remaining clues’ that were ‘actually two clues overlapping, one for the grid entry and another for a word of the same length, whose definition is the overlapping part’ were the hardest to solve. We put ZEST around a rising INN, giving ZENNIST, then put WINING (drinking) around N (any number) and produced WINNING as the fifth of the ‘non-grid answers’ (grateful for those guiding letters CMSFWD that condirmed which clues were giving us the words). So cheers, Twin!

‘Regiment panics at …’ had produced CAPTAINS as an anagram, and we worked out that ‘Film about bodyguard’ was MIST RE SS. As usual, time for Wiki who tells us that ‘The Captain’s Mistress is supposedly the game that so engrossed Captain Cook during his long voyages, that his crew gave it the name that has stuck to this day. Modern day copies such as Connect-4 are simply rehashed versions of this game.’

Now we understand why we have to treat the grid as 42 two-by-two squares. I label my seven columns A to G and find, with astonishment, that the last letters of those 42 ‘spare’ words all end with A,B,C,D,E,F, or G.  What a feat to have managed to spell out the message with the first letters of those words, and still divide them into six sets that would produce a successful Connect Four game (even if that did lead to some rather shaky candidates like ‘eighty-one’, ‘Ford’,  and IMDb).

Wiki tells me that the first player will always win if he plays correctly but my green played first and I find a row of four orange counters in my grid so I now have to SHADE FOUR WINNING (orange) DISCS and create a new grid where, using ‘two alternate colours’ I draw disc outlines (alternate, obviously, as the players have to insert their discs into the ‘grid’ in turn).

What a superb compilation. Many thanks to Twin.

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White Becomes Black by Augeas

Posted by shirleycurran on 25 October 2019

A friend who lives in the USA has just commented to me “Easy-peasy – for a Yank, anyway! I hope all the Brits struggle over this one to make up for all the times I’ve had to deal with Edinburgh subway maps or whatever.” He mutters occasionally about UK centered themes, Ealing comedy, for example, as do we, say, who also live overseas, when we have to solve a London-themed clue in The Times.

However, we had no problem with this one. Joseph Jefferson Jackson went straight into our grid, and when CINCINNATI and SOX appeared, we had only to consult Wiki to find that it was LANDIS (Terrestrial isles (6) = LAND IS)’ who imposed a lifetime ban on eight players, including the probably-innocent Shoeless Joe, a simple fellow but brilliant player who protested his innocence throughout his life (and, of course, we had to highlight ShoelessJoe and, appropriately, delete Landis).

My favourite novel is The Great Gatsby and it contains a wonderful episode when Gatsby introduces Nick to Meyer Wolfsheim:

‘He’s the man who fixed the World’s Series back in 1919,’

‘Fixed the World’s Series?’ I repeated.

The idea staggered me. I remembered, of course, that the World’s Series had been fixed in 1919, but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as a thing that merely happened, the end of some inevitable chain. It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people – with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe.

If we needed any more hints, all those shoes, disappearing from clues (CHOPIN, SPIKES, MULE, BROGUE, PUMP etc.) soon spelled out ‘SAY IT AIN’T SO JOE’, an apocryphal plea that was probably never uttered – but it went under our grid to complete a lovely thematic compilation on just about the hundredth anniversary of the event.

Of course, that all took place during the period of prohibition so was there any point my seeing whether Augeas retains his entry to the Listener Oenophile Outfit? But he left no doubt: ‘Impose upon designated driver into last of his beer (6)’ gave us DD in (hi)S ALE. Drunken driving indeed – but ‘Cheers, anyway and thanks for the enjoyable compilation, Augeas’.


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L4575: ‘White becomes Black’ by Augeas

Posted by Encota on 25 October 2019

This was a subject that I only had a faint recollection of, so it was interesting to read up on the detail.

I particularly liked ‘Chopin’ as a type of shoe (a clog, if anyone is still asking). I also thought the ‘Shoeless’ theme applied to fourteen clues worked well to highlight what happened to Shoeless Joe Jackson, whose full name came be found radiating from the upper left hand cell.

And I have assumed that the removal of LANDIS from 36a is all that is required to meet the ‘his nemesis erased’ part of the preamble? I spent quite some time looking for something additional but if it is there I have failed to find it.

Finally, I hope to catch up with some of you at the S&B event in York this weekend!


Tim / Encota

PS Thanks to all who’ve provided me with some kind feedback for my recent Inquisitor thematic (#1615 ‘Corpsing’ by Encota), either by commenting online or directly to me 🙂 One of my favourite themes and I am pretty sure my easiest thematic puzzle published to date. I don’t mind confessing to being the E of ‘EP’ in the Magpie this month (Oct 2019) too – though that one definitely is a bit harder 😉

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Well-spoken by Miles

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 October 2019

We have already solved fairly challenging compilations by Miles at the C and D level in the Magpie but this is his first Listener and the title ‘Well-spoken’ doesn’t say much to us (it still doesn’t now that we have solved it but I am sure Dave or Tim will  explain it). I quite like a carte-blanche crossword. It is clear that this one is going to have some drawing as the endgame, so bars would probably be an encumbrance and we are given three 11-letter solutions that help us place the remainder of the words we solve. I believe the clues have to be fairly generous in a carte blanche since the solver is starting with a blank grid and no guiding spaces with numbers – and this was a generous set.

We are also given enough alcoholic clues to give Miles admittance to the Listener oenophile setup. ‘Drop bits of egg fermented into French drink; it’s like fizzy yoghurt (5)’ (Well it would be wouldn’t it – what a gross way to handle your apéritif!) We put E(gg) and F(ermented) into our KIR and get KEFIR ‘an effervescent drink made from fermented cow’s milk’. ‘He might generously subsidise upsetting waste on NY bar-room bill locally (10)’ There’s a rather strange surface reading there but we work backwards from BENEFACTOR producing NEB< as the bill, CAFE< as the NY bar-room and ROT< as the waste. ‘Then there’s ‘Sicilian smoker burns alcohol in a saucer (4)’ A bit of an old chestnut, ETNA and the first one we solved but ‘Cheers!’ anyway, Miles, I’m raising my glass to a fine set of clues that soon gave us a complete grid.

The omitted wordplay letters had spelled out EULER LINE. It’s rather an EULER day today. The numerical crossword setters Oyler [sic] and Zag have just issued Number 12 of the Crossnumbers Quarterly where solvers who enjoy numerical puzzles can enjoy about nine of them in each three-monthly addition. Take a look!

We needed to take a look at Wiki in order to understand what half of the preamble was spelling out for us then, when we had joined our three Xs to make a triangle, there was a smile of understanding of that unch phrase for there almost in the centre of our grid A LONE TEPEE LEANS.  Those four small unclued words ELAN, LEO, STEP and EEN would have lowered the median word length considerably had they not originally been split up by bars in our grid and they performed the delightful task of describing what we were drawing.

It must have been quite a challenge to fit words into a symmetrical grid with those Xs, Os, and EULER correctly placed to produce the Euler line and as usual, I learned something new so thank you, Miles.


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Listener No 4574: Well-spoken by Miles

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 October 2019

This was Miles’s first Listener, although he has had a fair few over at Magpie — some of them D graded. I think Ds are slightly more difficult than the average Listener, so I was hoping for a challenge. Mind you we’ve had a couple of those in recent weeks.

A carte blanche faced us here. Nine clues omitted one letter of the answer, and they would spell out the puzzle’s theme. Four unclued entries were the only other difficulty, apart from having to jigsaw the answers into the grid. And yet again, the endgame would involve some drawing, although “shapes” seemed to indicate there little or no artistic skill would be involved.

The clues were solid with some easy and some tricky. My favourite was probably Just about highest point orbiting round earth? (6) — an &lit. for APOGEE. The letters omitted from wordplay gave Euler line. Although I’d heard of him, I hadn’t heard of it, so an enjoyable journey round the Web was educational. I normally paid attention during Maths classes, so I’m sure we didn’t do this way back when!

Identifying the three X’s was straightforward, seeing that they probably gave a triangle, and it wasn’t a giant leap to then look for some O’s. The only O’s in the grid seemed to form a circle. Rather than describe the construction of an Euler line, I hope the animation on the right tells all. (Egg on face if there’s an error somewhere!)

Thanks for a fine puzzle, Miles.

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